Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

Pots & kettles as Obama criticises Cameron over Libya

March 11, 2016

It seems a bit rich for Obama with his utter shambles in Syria to be criticising David Cameron for the shambles in Libya. Not that Obama (and Hillary Clinton) didn’t mess up in Libya as well but the UK and France were taking the lead there.  And while it may have been the fall of Libya which unleashed the weapons and fanatics who morphed into ISIS, they would not have expanded as they did without Obama and Kerry dropping the ball in Iraq and Syria.

The Russian strategy seems to be actually forcing ISIS back, but plan B for ISIS seems to be to setup headquarters in Libya if they are eventually squeezed out of Iraq and Syria. The UK and France have to take their share of the blame for their sanctimonious but ill-thought out “regime change” in Libya, but the real frustration for Obama is that he has compounded the failed end-game in Libya and multiplied it in Syria.

BBC:

David Cameron became “distracted” after the 2011 intervention in Libya, US President Barack Obama has said. Speaking to the Atlantic magazine, he said the operation went as well as he had hoped, but Libya was now “a mess”. The article also said he had warned the PM the UK would have to pay its “fair share” and spend 2% of GDP on defence. …..

…. BBC North America editor Jon Sopel said the unsolicited statement put out by the White House suggested Downing Street had reacted angrily to the article. “It’s like we’ve seen a curtain drawn back on the unspun thoughts of President Obama, complete with frustration as well, and what we’ve seen tonight is the White House trying to close the curtain as quickly as it can,” he added. …….

……. The toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya – following UN-backed air strikes designed to protect civilians – led to a power vacuum and instability, with no authority in full control. The intervention was led by the UK and France – and in his interview, Mr Obama reflects on “what went wrong”, saying: “There’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.” Mr Cameron, he said, became “distracted by a range of other things”.

He also criticised former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, saying he had tried to claim the spotlight. The former French president, he said, “wanted to trumpet the flights he was taking in the air campaign, despite the fact that we had wiped out all the air defences and essentially set up the entire infrastructure” for the intervention. President Obama said the intervention “averted large-scale civilian casualties (and) prevented what almost surely would have been a prolonged and bloody civil conflict”. But he added: “And despite all that, Libya is a mess.”

Trying to pass on some of the blame onto Cameron and Sarkozy is not unjustified but it does not put Obama’s utter fiasco in Iraq and Syria into any better light. It really does not help the pot when it calls the kettles black.


 

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Déjà vu! For Iraq read Syria

August 28, 2013

Déjà vu!

Some kind of military action by the US and its allies – probably missile and drone attacks – is imminent  against Syria and Assad. To what end is uncertain. To destroy stocks of chemical weapons could be an objective but any action would probably only cause more release of the toxins involved. To destroy or help destroy Assad’s regime is possible but unlikely since the alternative would probably be Al Qaida. To assassinate Assad runs the same risk. To kill some of Assad’s military or his supporters just as a “punitive” strike could be an objective but adding to the killing to stop the killing seems a little dubious. To demonstrate a self-righteous “moral” position to the world with the least damaging consequences possible would seem to the main objective. To prevent any future use of chemical weapons by any country could be an objective thought it is difficult to see how many “bad guys” would need to be killed or how much property would need to be destroyed to create a valid deterrent.

For Iraq read Syria. For Bush, Blair, Chirac  (my failing memory) and Howard read Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Rudd. Even though each of the current four leaders is from the opposing party to that of his predecessor. For WMD read “chemical or nerve gas”. Statements by the politicians show that they are absolutely “certain” that Assad was responsible. Evidence is not forthcoming. As it was not for Iraq. And it does not inspire any confidence that to justify the Iraq invasion, “evidence” was made-up by the intelligence services to satisfy their political masters.

That upto some 300 people have been killed seems very likely though there is some doubt as to the number. The main evidence seems to be video footage. That some form of chemical or nerve agent was used seems probable. And traces of such agents are detectable years after the event, though some politicians (Obama and Kerry for example) would like us to believe that the evidence may be destroyed and therefore  time is of the essence just to preserve the evidence. Though it is likely that someone within the Assad regime was probably responsible it is not at all impossible that one of the many “rebel” groups was responsible. Some of the rebel groups – along with Assad’s supporters – have exhibited their barbaric and cannibalistic tendencies.

But I am afraid that military actions will be carried out – again – without any more serious objective than to demonstrate “moral superiority” and to fulfill domestic agendas.  Even though such actions – in themselves – undermine the very moral superiority that is being touted. Some more people – some quite innocent – will of course be killed. They will just be collateral damage and the the sacrifice in a war of moral superiority. That Tony Blair on-board a luxurious yacht somewhere supports immediate strikes against Syria only adds to my feeling that it would be ill-advised. His thirst for blood is apparently not yet satisfied. Obama needs to show that he can actually be decisive – if only for history. Cameron needs a war – any war – before the next General Election and Spain over Gibraltar does not quite fit the bill.  Argentina over the Falklands is better but too far away and already done. Hollande needs to show that he does really exist – as he did in Mali. Rudd would love to be seen at the “big table” and he could see this as a way for grabbing some of Abbot’s supporters for the election in less than 2 weeks.

The chaos in Iraq and the daily loss of life that is occurring there is a direct consequence of the Iraq invasion (and how much worse would it have been under Saddam?). The adventure in Libya to satisfy the European desire for demonstrating their moral superiority will have consequences for many many years to come. Of course the Middle East today (like the Balkans a few years ago) provides proof positive of the barbarism that lies so close to the surface of many human “societies”. And the interventions by moral “police” has always dragged the police down to the level of the criminal societies they are ostensibly trying to put down. The intervention in Kosovo has succeeded after a fashion. But it is hard to come to to the same conclusion for Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya.

To add Syria to the list seems irresponsible.

The only way to address Syria – in my opinion – is to ostracise the entire country. Shun them. Close the borders. isolate them. No weapons – to anybody. No goods, no services to enter the country. Nobody and nothing enters. Only refugees may leave. Send the country to Coventry. Go back in a few months and when the killing stops – help the survivors pick up the pieces. But don’t intervene to add to the killing in the hope of stopping the killing.

LSE Professor leaves in advance of critical Saif al-Islam Gaddafi report

November 1, 2011

David HeldDavid Held, who is currently Graham Wallas professor of political science at the LSE, has announced that he is leaving in January to take up a post at Durham University.

But he is leaving one step ahead of the reports on Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s funding of research at the LSE. and one on charges of plagiarism in his PhD thesis.

According to the Guardian, Held said in a statement  “I will be taking up the positions of master of University College and chair of politics and international relations at the University of Durham from January. This move is being made for academic reasons and I look forward to the new avenues of research that this role will bring. I have many links to LSE which will be maintained in the years ahead.”

But Held who had very close links to

(more…)

End-game for Gadaffi no longer of his making

August 22, 2011

Update 2! Now even Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has appeared in Tripoli surrounded by his supporters and claiming that they are in control  and that his father is well. This could be a bitter end-game after the euphoria of yesterday.

Update! Mohammed Gaddafi – the older brother of Saif – has managed to escape from house arrest with the help of Gaddafi loyal troops!

He should have taken up the Chavez offer to move to Venezuela or have slunk away to his bolt-hole in Belarus. He should have used his friend Berlusconi’s travel agency to get away. Those options are no longer available to him. The earlier “negotiations” with French and EU contacts foundered on the riduculous demands made by his children.

Now it is reported that his youngest son Khamis has been killed.  In the last 2 days 2 or maybe 3 more of his sons have been captured by the rebels.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed that Saif al Islam and his older brother Mohammed have been detained.

CC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said: “It is very important to make clear there is an obligation to surrender Saif to the ICC in accordance with the Security Council resolution.”

Saif was reportedly captured in a western tourist village of Libya, while Mohammed surrendered to rebel forces and is under house arrest.

But Gaddafi himself  has not been seen in public since May. One of his last TV appearances was in mid-June when he was pictured playing chess with the World Chess Federation president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. He was heard on radio on Saturday saying that he was in Tripoli but this does not say much. Reports that he may be on his way to South Africa were denied by the Zuma government.  The BBC reports that he may no longer be in Tripoli:

One of the most persistent rumours is that he left Tripoli a while ago and may have gone to his birthplace of Sirte, on the western coast, or his ancestral home of Sabha in the south.

It is possible but unlikely that he has remained in his compound – with its bunker – in the Libyan capital. Fierce fighting is currently being reported around his Bab al-Azizia residence.

How the rebels will treat Gaddafi and his children will be quite telling about what we can expect in Libya. In 40 years of power as the “peoples leader” he has not built up any of the country’s institutions and “clan power” and clan politics may rule for some time.

Arab spring withering into autumn

June 23, 2011

The prospects and hopes and expectations of the Arab spring spreading throughout the Arab world are now becoming uncertain. In Tunisia and Egypt the military is firmly in control and whether a real shift of power to the people will now take place remains in doubt. There is still hope and the change itself is irreversible but how far the change will go remains to be seen. It will only be by attacking the high unemployment and endemic corruption that a measure of success can be achieved.

But the fires lit by the events in Tunisia and Libya are struggling to stay alight in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. In Saudi Arabia the government has so far managed to douse even the smallest sparks that were flickering.

In Bahrain the King with the help of the Saudis is suppressing all opposition from the Shia majority:

The sentencing of 21 men to prison terms ranging from two years to life has sent waves of anger through the majority Shia community in Bahrain. Family members say they have already experienced weeks and months of anxiety about loved ones, to whom they have been given little access.

They say the men have been tortured, denied appropriate legal representation, and are now being sentenced harshly for crimes they did not commit in a bid to silence opposition calls for reform.

In Yemen:

Opposition figures blamed pro-government military officials for allowing more than 60 suspected members of al-Qaida to escape Wednesday from a Yemeni prison. The mass escape from the prison occurred Wednesday in the southern city of Mukalla.

Opposition leaders blamed senior military officials loyal to embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh for the prison break. They said it was an effort to get financial support from Washington and prop up the regime of the Yemeni president, the Yemen Post reports.

As the Hindu puts it:

Yemen, in many ways, is the most complicated situation. It is infested with the maximum external interference — Saudi Arabia, U.S., Iran, GCC and assorted countries. At one time, its long-serving President had accepted the principle of resigning and leaving, but since seems to have changed his mind. The injuries he suffered in an attack on his compound and consequent flight to Saudi Arabia have paradoxically given him time to consolidate his position and strengthen his support base in Yemen. The south wants to secede and parts of north want to merge with the big northern neighbour, but the latter is not interested, it seems. The Shia-Sunni act is also being played out there. Al-Qaeda was reported to have captured a town, Zinjibar, in the south, but it was suspected to be a diabolical move of the President who, thereby, calculated to win the sympathy of the Americans. The latter are exploiting the situation and relentlessly bombing suspected concentrations of the al-Qaeda, hoping to eliminate its leadership.

In Libya things are getting very messy and the NATO efforts sans the US is less than impressive:

Libya has turned out to be the cry of despair for those who have committed their armed personnel, scarce financial resources and, more importantly, prestige in the outcome of the situation there. The conflict has gone on for longer than anyone expected and is costing the western nations more than they would really care to spend. Having pushed through Resolution 1973 with the help of the Arab League, they had calculated a quick and low-cost operation. Like in Afghanistan, Nato cannot afford to pull out without being able to claim victory. Two or three factors have frustrated their plans — Muammar Qadhafi’s stubborn refusal to disappear from the scene, the absence of an identifiable and credible alternative leadership, and the continued loyalty of many African states to Mr. Qadhafi. Mr. Qadhafi is no doubt counting on the fatigue — financial and military — factor weakening public support for the Nato operation. Nato strikes killing civilians will further erode support and provide more propaganda ammunition to Mr. Qadhafi.

And in Syria an embattled Assad is balancing between cosmetic reforms and a ruthless and bloody repression of his opponents:

Tens of thousands of Syrians are demonstrating in support of the president a day after pro-democracy protesters rejected his speech. President Bashar Assad vowed reform in a speech Monday that was only his third public appearance since the revolt against his family’s 40-year-rule erupted in March.

But his vague overtures to a pro-democracy uprising fell flat with the opposition, and anti-government protesters took to the streets shouting “Liar!” and demanding his ouster. Thousands of people carrying Assad’s pictures took to the streets of Damascus on Tuesday, pledging allegiance to the president.

….  The opposition estimates more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained as Assad unleashed his military and security forces to crush the protest movement that erupted in March, inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and that spread to region after region.

There is now a real possibility that the  fresh green  Arab Spring which promised so much just a few months ago may wither into an Arab Autumn and millions may have to withstand a dormant and repressive period before a new Spring finally arrives.

But this new season will surely come.

What is Gaddafi’s connection to Norway? Galyna Kolotnytska has sought asylum there

May 6, 2011

It could be that some of Gaddafi’s wealth is hidden away in oil-rich Norway.

I have posted earlier about Galyna Koloynytska’s return to Ukraine from Libya. She remains loyal to Gaddafi and since she cannot have been politically oppressed in her home country, her sudden appearance in Norway suggests that some of his wealth is stashed here. I still have the opinion that Galyna Kolynytska has a pre-determined role in Gaddafi’s end-game and that she is still following this game plan.

Being very rich or having wealth hidden away in Norway should not – on the face of it – provide grounds for seeking asylum.

Expressen reports:

Gaddafi and Galyna: photo from Expressen

One of  Gaddafi’s private nurses, Galyna Kolotnytska has  sought asylum in Norway, reveals the Norwegian paper VG.

Galyna Kolotnytska had been  Gaddafi’s private nurse for eight years. She accompanied  him on all trips and is described as one of the people who are closest to him. Some time ago, she became world famous when she was mentioned as Mr Gaddafi’s  “buxom blonde” in the WikiLeaks documents that were leaked.

Now, say several sources that she has fled to Norway where she has sought asylum on Wednesday. The Ukrainian nurse was on Thursday night at an asylum reception centre in Oslo, the paper said after having been questioned earlier by Norwegian police.

In February this year, Kolotnytska left Libya and returned to her family in Ukraine.

Related: 

The end is nigh for Gaddafi: Galyna Kolotnytska has returned to Ukraine

Gaddafi & family activate Plan B to save themselves

Blood and oil in the sand: Is Gaddafi still getting the money from Libyan oil?

March 27, 2011

Apparently Libyan oil is still flowing while bombs are falling .

But who is getting the money for the oil?

And is oil the only reason why the West and Nato are supporting the rebels in Libya but not those opposing the oppresive regime in Bahrain?

Der Spiegel:

Are countries involved in the international operation in Libya hypocritical? That, it would seem, is the belief of German Development Minister Dirk Niebel, who criticized participants for continuing to draw oil from Libya. The comments show just how wide the gap between Berlin and its NATO allies has become. …

On Thursday evening,  Dirk Niebel  a member of Merkel’s junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), accused the United Nations-backed military alliance currently operating in Libya of hypocrisy. 

“It is notable that exactly those countries which are blithely dropping bombs in Libya are still drawing oil from Libya,” he said.

Niebel also said that Germany was “not consulted” by France prior to the start of the campaign in Libya and added that European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton’s coordination of the EU position on Libya had been “suboptimal.”

Niebel’s comments came on the heels of a demand by Merkel, made during the ongoing European Union summit in Brussels, for a complete oil embargo against Libya. The international community, she said, “must clearly show that we will not do business with anyone who wages war against his own people.” …..

And the implied accusation that oil interests are one motivation behind the Libya mission is not likely to be well received in Western capitals. …

Meanwhile, on Thursday, an agreement was reached among NATO member states that the trans-Atlantic alliance would take control of the no-fly zone over Libya.

Towns, tribes and oil fields of Libya.

Gaddafi & family activate Plan B to save themselves

March 25, 2011

That Gaddafi and family are not the kind to die heroically fighting to the last breath for some matter of principle is fairly clear. That their private aircraft were flitting around the world a few weeks ago secretly shifting and hiding their assets is an educated presumption. It seems increasingly likely that a “Plan B” for survival anda re-grouping is being put into effect as the “no-fly zone” and sanctions and the world-wide freezing of Libyan assets takes effect.

Belarus – not Venezuela – maybe Gaddafi’s bolt-hole

Map indicating location of Belarus and Libya

Belarus and Libya: image Wikipedia

My reading is that the family have already prepared their bolt hole most probably in Belarus and that Venezuela and Cuba are not viable. Kazakhstan and Tajikistan are remotely possible. I would not be surprised if the sudden flight of his nurse Galyna Kolotnytska back to Ukraine at the end of February was executed as part of Plan B. But the problem for Gaddafi and his family is now to arrange a “safe passage” to wherever the bolt-hole has been prepared.

Reuters reports:

Members of Muammar Gaddafi’s entourage are putting out feelers to seek a ceasefire or safe passage from Libya.

Roger Tamraz, a Middle Eastern businessman with long experience conducting deals with the Libyan regime said Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar’s eldest son, and Abdullah Senoussi, the Libyan leader’s brother-in-law, were the most prominent Gaddafi entourage members involved in seeking ways to end the fighting. A U.S. national security official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. government agencies were aware that Saif al-Islam and Senoussi had been involved in making peace overtures.

“It’s clear that some of Gaddafi’s family members always have a plan B up their sleeve. That doesn’t mean they’ll leave and certain Gaddafis are probably going to stick with their crazy dad no matter what happens,” the U.S. official said.

In an interview on Tuesday with a U.S. television network, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was aware that people close to Gaddafi had been trying to make contact.

“I’m not aware that he personally has reached out, but I do know that people allegedly on his behalf have been reaching out,” Clinton told ABC America’s Diane Sawyer.

“This is what we hear from so many sources…Today, yesterday, the day before. Some of it…is theater, some of it is kind of, shall we say, game-playing…But some of it, we think, is exploring, ‘what are my options, where could I go, what could I do.’ And we would encourage that,” Clinton said.

The U.S. national security official added: “It’s not at all surprising that members of the Gaddafi regime might be looking for ways out of this mess.” …..

Tamraz told Reuters that some of the most aggressive efforts by members of Gaddafi’s entourage to start dialogue were being channeled through Austria. A European government financial investigator said that Libya was believed to have extensive wealth and investments in Austria.

Tamraz said that he believed Saif al-Islam, Senoussi and other members of the Gaddafi entourage were proposing a ceasefire between government forces, rebels and the anti-Gaddafi Western alliance, or plans which would enable members of the Libyan leader’s entourage to go into exile peacefully.


Gaddafi bombs Misrata while France tries to hurry into military action

March 18, 2011

From Swedish television:

France could  launch a military action against Libya within hours after the UN had authorized operation said French government spokesman Francois Baroin today, Friday. “The attack will come quickly,” he told radio station RTL.

Meanwhile Reuters reports that Gaddafi’s forces are bombing Misrata.

Norway will participate in any international military action against Muammar Kadaffi in Libya, said Defense Minister Grete Faremo to VG online. “We will contribute to the operation. But it is too early to say exactly in what way”. One possibility is that Norway will send F-16 fighters. “But we will also be launching a major humanitarian operation with transport aircraft”.

China said on Friday that it was concerned about the UN resolution to impose a flight ban over Libya, although the country chose not to use its veto to block it. “We oppose the use of military force in international relationships, and have serious reservations about elements of the resolution, “said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.

Ten countries late on Thursday voted for the resolution while Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India abstained. The resolution calls for  “all necessary measures” to protect civilians against Gadaffi, but no foreign soldiers will be sent to Libya.

Opinion is divided on how soon the United States military mobilization can begin. French diplomats said that along with Britain they could have a military response force ready on Friday, writes Reuters. But representatives of the military in Washington are hesitant. The senior general in the United States, Norton Schwartz, said on Thursday that it may take up to one week until the operation is in progress.

 

Gaddafi sets his sights on Benghazi

March 17, 2011

While the situation in Japan captures the world’s attention, Gaddafi’s troops are ready to attack Benghazi. All the talk about no-fly zones by European countries and NATO have not led to anything – yet. Reuters reports:

Libyan government soldiers battled rebels on the road to the insurgent stronghold of Benghazi on Thursday as the United States raised the possibility of air strikes to stop Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

The army told people to leave opposition-held locations and arms dumps. But its advance on Benghazi — and the prospect of a decisive battle in the insurrection — was hampered by clashes around Ajbadiyah, a strategic town on the coastal highway.

Slow-paced international efforts to halt the bloodshed moved up a gear when the United States, previously cool on the idea of a foreign military intervention, said the U.N. Security Council should consider actions beyond a no-fly zone over Libya.

 


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